African American Studies

Director: Kathryn Morgan

The African American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that integrates the humanities, social and behavioral sciences and health related fields. A major in African American Studies leads to a Bachelor of Arts Degree. The Program also offers a minor. Since the Program requires only 39 hours for completion, students are encouraged to consider a "double major" with African American Studies.

The curriculum offered by the African American Studies Program advances knowledge about continental and diasporic African and African-American cultures and the history, literature, art, music, politics, economics, and religion associated with these cultures.

Our mission is to encourage critical thinking, develop analytical and writing skills, promote understanding and appreciation of contributions made by African Americans, and illuminate the complexity of race and the African American experience.

The plan of study prepares students with critical knowledge, research skills, and communication skills to further their education in graduate and professional study; obtain employment in public health, social sciences, business and related fields; communicate effectively; and demonstrate the application of knowledge through community engagement.

Students receiving a degree in African American Studies may go to graduate school or professional school or obtain employment in a variety of fields.

Major Requirements for African American Studies

AAS 200Introduction to African-American Studies3
AAS 325Black Psychology3
AAS 330African Aesthetics and Traditional Religion3
AAS 420Public Health and Medical Issues in African Communities3
AAS 493Capstone Seminar3
or AAS 495 Individual Studies
Required Writing and Research Course
Select one of the following:3
Research Methods in African American Studies
Introduction to Creative Writing
Reading, Writing, and Research for English Majors
Newswriting and Reporting I
English Courses
Select two of the following:6
African American Literature, 1746-1954
African American Literature, 1954-Present
African Literature
African Women's Literature
African American Autobiography
African American Dramatic Tradition
African American Poetry Tradition
The Slave Narrative and Its Literary Expressions
Black Women Writers
The Harlem Renaissance
History Courses
Select two of the following:6
African-American History to 1865
African-American History Since 1865
Topics in African American History
U.S. Civil Rights Movement
Topics in African American History
Approved Electives
Select three of the following:9
Jazz Styles: History and Appreciation (CA)
History of Sport: The African American Experience
Special Topics in African-American Studies
African American Music (CA)
History and Tradition of Gospel Music
Black Image: Screen and Television (GJ)
African Identity/Personality
Seminar in African American Studies
African American Studies Internship
Peoples of the World: Africa
African/Native American/Oceanic Art
African Art (CA)
Race and Representation (CA)
Ethnographic Filmmaking/SL (GJ & PA)
Minority Aging (GJ & PA)
Race, Crime, Gender and Social Policy (GJ)
The Evolution of Jazz (CA)
Politics and Race in America (GJ)
African Politics
Psychology of the African American Child (HM)
Race and Ethnic Relations (GJ & PA)
Minority Health
Sociology of Hip Hop
Racism, Sexism and Other Isms
Exploring the African-American Creative Experience (CA)
Total Hours39

Minor Requirements for African American Studies

Select 6 courses from the following courses:
Introduction to African-American Studies
History of Sport: The African American Experience
Special Topics in African-American Studies
African American Music
History and Tradition of Gospel Music
Black Image: Screen and Television
African Identity/Personality
Black Psychology
African Aesthetics and Traditional Religion
Research Methods in African American Studies
Public Health and Medical Issues in African Communities
Total Hours:18

Proposed Program of Study for a Major in African-American Studies

First TermHoursSecond TermHours
EH 1013EH 1023
AAS 2003 
 6 3
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
HY 2233AAS 3003
AAS 2903HY 2243
 6 6
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
AAS 3203AAS 3103
AAS 3303EH 3663
EH 3653 
 9 6
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
AAS 4003AAS 4203
 AAS 4953
 3 6
Total credit hours: 45


African American Studies Honors Program


The purposes of the Honors Program in African American Studies are to promote academic excellence; provide opportunity for majors to do extensive study and research in the discipline; and prepare academically talented majors to pursue graduate school or professional careers.


  • completion of required AAS courses:
    • AAS 200 Introduction to African American Studies
    • AAS 320 (African Identity and Personality),
    •  AAS 350 (Research Methods in African American Studies) 
  •  undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.00
  • GPA of 3.25 in AAS courses
  • junior-senior level standing


  • completion of  required courses for the AAS major
  • approval by the Program Director
  • completion of  AAS 497 Honors Seminar (Fall Semester)
  • completion of  AAS 498 Honors Thesis/Project (Spring Semester)
  • formal presentation of the final project


Participation in the African American Studies Honors program provides opportunities for academically talented students to have unique access to faculty and to interact with other honors students in an environment that encourages creative and innovative thinking. Seminar participation and   research experience will be useful for graduate study or a career in the field. Completion of the Honors program is an advantage when applying to graduate programs. Finally, students who complete the program will be recognized at the African American Studies outstanding student ceremony and will graduate “With Honors in African American Studies.

For additional information and/or admission to the African American Honors Program, please contact:

Dr. Kay Morgan, Program Director
African American Studies Program
322 Heritage Hall
Birmingham, AL  35294-1152
Phone: 205-975-9651 or 975-9652


AAS 165. Jazz Styles: History and Appreciation. 3 Hours.

American jazz with emphasis on instrumental and vocal performers, jazz bands, and combos. Development of big band, swing, and popular music.

AAS 200. Introduction to African-American Studies. 3 Hours.

Examination of seven core areas of African American Studies: History, Religion, Social Organization, Politics, Economics, Creative Production, and Psychology. Emphasizes major thematical theoretical and critical discourses of Black Studies, and its emergence as a political/social movement and discipline. Relates the latter to the complexity and diversity of contemporary movements such as Civil Rights, Free Speech, Black Power, and Afro-centricism. Majors and minors in African American Studies should complete this course before enrolling in any higher level AAS course. Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

AAS 220. History of Sport: The African American Experience. 3 Hours.

This course provides a socio-cultural and historical overview of the African American athletes (male and female) that contributed to sports as we know them today. Focus will begin on the historical figures that helped shape sports culture and will continue into discussions about the role African-Americans play in collegiate and professionals sports today.

AAS 223. African-Amer Hist to Civil War. 3 Hours.

Survey of the African American experience from Pre-Colonial Africa to the End of the Civil War.

AAS 224. African American History Since 1865. 3 Hours.

Survey of late 19th century to present African American history.

AAS 250. Special Topics in African-American Studies. 3 Hours.

Specific topic in African American Studies.

AAS 290. Writing in African American Studies. 3 Hours.

Course offers students continued practice in reading, research, and writing central to academic investigation and to interdisciplinary approaches. Develops skills in writing across disciplines and critical thinking. Emphasizes readings on diverse, contemporary, and multicultural issues in African American Studies. Writing, Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

AAS 300. African American Music. 3 Hours.

Survey, history and appreciation of African derived music and its presence in the United States from its earliest forms in spirituals, blues and jazz to contemporary forms of be-bop, hip-hop, reggae, and rap.

AAS 301. History and Tradition of Gospel Music. 3 Hours.

The purpose of this course is to broaden the knowledge of American Gospel Music history and to identify the valuable contributions of this genre by studying its eras and major contributors.

AAS 310. Black Image: Screen and Television. 3 Hours.

History and definition of the image of the African-ancestored people in the United States through cinema and television.

AAS 320. African Identity/Personality. 3 Hours.

This course is a study of the African identity, personality, and the concept of ¿blackness¿ with particular emphasis on what it means to be black in America. An adequate discourse on the complexities of African American Studies requires a multi-disciplinary approach that considers the expansive nature of the African Experience in North America. Accordingly, any substantive intellectual and scholarly foundation for critically understanding the salient areas of this course require the application of cross-discipline areas of study involving race, culture, socioeconomics, history, African American political behavior, and psychosocial theories of development. Quantitative Literacy is a significant component of this course (QEP).

AAS 325. Black Psychology. 3 Hours.

This courses examines and explores theory, research, and practice related to the study of psycho-social experiences from the worldview of Africans in America.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 330. African Aesthetics and Traditional Religion. 3 Hours.

African aesthetics, African cosmology, and qualities of African spirituality.

AAS 340. Medieval African Technology. 3 Hours.

Development, evolution, and impact of foundational African technology on contemporary inventions in architecture, engineering, and medicine.

AAS 350. Research Methods in African American Studies. 3 Hours.

Research Methods in Africana Studies will introduce students to a general conceptual framework for ordering the social theories and methods that people of African descent have used to interpret and understand Africana life experiences.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: D]

AAS 366. African American Literature II. 3 Hours.

Cultural values from James Baldwin in 1950s, through black nationalist, civil rights, and black feminist movements, to contemporary writers such as Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, and Toni Morrison.
Prerequisites: EH 101 [Min Grade: C] and EH 102 [Min Grade: C] and AAS 200 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 400. Seminar in African American Studies. 3 Hours.

Specific topic in African American Studies.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 420. Public Health and Medical Issues in African Communities. 3 Hours.

This course introduces students to important health issues that face the African American community. The goals are to increase awareness and stimulate discussion about health problems facing African Americans, factors believed to cause, contribute or worsen these problems, and steps now taken to alleviate or eliminate these problems.

AAS 447. African-American Dramatic Tradition. 3 Hours.

Development of African American dramatic tradition from the nineteenth century through the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts movement to contemporary postmodernism, including Brown, Hurston, Baraka, and Wilson.

AAS 448. African American Poetry Tradition. 3 Hours.

Development of African American poetry from its early works to the present, including Wheatley, Dumbar, Hughes, Brooks, and Angelou.
Prerequisites: EH 101 [Min Grade: C] and EH 102 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 490. African American Studies Internship. 3 Hours.

On campus and off cmapus training positions in filed utilizing cross disciplinary skills, with some positions offering external funding. Students should contact the Program Director for listings of available positions and application procedures. May be counted as elective only. Preq: Junior or senior standing as African American Studies major and approval of application. May be repeated once for credit. 3 hours. Permission of the Program Director is needed.

AAS 493. Capstone Seminar. 3 Hours.

Specific topics vary...The course will provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon and to use the knowledge, skills and dispositions developed in previous African American Studies coursework. This course or AAS 495 required of all AAS majors. AAS 493 is ideally taken in the final undergraduate semester. Preq: 9 hours AAS coursework at the 400 level and permission of the Program Director. 3 hours.

AAS 495. Individual Studies. 3 Hours.

Specific topics vary. An individually designed course for semi-independent research or guided readings in areas and subjects that synthesize the African American Studies core areas. The course will provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon and use the knowledge, skills, and disposition developed in previous African American Studies coursework. This course or AAS 493 required of all AAS majors. AAS 495 is ideally taken in the final undergradute semster. Consult Program Director for procedure to apply for this course.

AAS 497. Honors Seminar. 3 Hours.

Students are taught the basics of research, statistical analysis and techniques of making a formal presentation of research. Under the guidance of the Program Director and faculty mentor, students are required to develop an honors research project.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: D] and AAS 320 [Min Grade: D] and AAS 325 [Min Grade: D]

AAS 498. Honors Project. 3 Hours.

Under the guidance of the faculty mentor, students complete the project and make a formal presentation of the research.
Prerequisites: AAS 497 [Min Grade: D]